Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer is my favorite Little Critter book. It's silly but we read it every year and the children love it.
The Huron Carol by Frances Tyrrell is an English translation of the Huron carol Father Jean de Brebeuf wrote as a missionary in the 1600s. I love the authentic illustrations and the opportunity to discuss missionaries and love for those who do not know Christ during the Advent season, though I understand some people are distressed of the retelling of the Nativity story in another culture's traditions. Reading this book also gives us an opportunity to talk about how
Mary, Joseph and Jesus were not white like we are white and that God
created all people, Christ is present in all people, no matter the color
or culture. We supplement with a couple of CDs (Christmas with Chanticleer and The Huron Carol sung by Alan Mills - I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I liked from our library.)
The Story of Christmas by Vivian French is a board book with wonderful vibrant illustrations for the little ones.
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Gennady Spirin. I'm not sure why, but the kids love this song. I love Spirin's illustrations.
The Friendly Beasts illustrated by Tomie dePaola is a sweet carol wonderfully illustrated.
All for the Newborn Baby by Phyllis Root is one of my favorite Christmas books. It's so beautifully illustrated. The children still need to grow into this one a bit, but we read it every year anyway. It's a shame it's out of print, but I received a perfect copy from PaperBackSwap.)
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. We read this every year and every year I have problems with it. Seriously, if Kansas Dad sold a family heirloom to buy me some hair combs I'd be pretty upset. Her hair will grow back, but his heirloom is gone forever. But it's a classic and it does model a loving and giving attitude. The illustrations in this version are particularly good.
Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. We have the version illustrated by Diane Goode, which is fine (the kids actually love it), but I'm partial to the illustrations of Barbara Cooney. Maybe your library has a copy because it's sadly out of print.
The First Christmas by Sophy Williams is a "changing picture book" where you open up the pages and the illustrations change. I found this on sale after Christmas last year and think the children will love it.
Lucy's Christmas by Donald Hall is another of my favorites. I love reading about Lucy's preparations for Christmas and her delightful family. Donald Hall is a wonderful storyteller (one who brought us the delight that is Ox-Cart Man). The illustrations are fine in the Lucy book, though not quite as good as Cooney's.
The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Anita Lobel. We read this because it's a classic poem I want my children to know and we're reading it on Christmas Eve even though Santa doesn't come to our house. (St. Nicholas comes on his feast day.)
Christmas Story by Brian Wildsmith is another of my favorites. His illustrations are brilliant and intriguing. There's always something new to notice. I waited for a long time, but I have a lovely copy courtesy of a kind member of PaperBackSwap.
Bethlehem illustrated by Fiona French shows her wonderful stained glass window illustrations set against the King James Version words of the Nativity story. It's a joy to read every year.
I've noticed, as I write up our Advent lists to share, that I've received quite a few wonderful out-of-print books from PaperBackSwap. I've been a member since March 2008 and am just beginning to reach the front of the line for some much-wished-for books (by myself and others). I've heard from some people that none of the books they want are available and I always encourage them to use the Wish List and be patient. There may be books I never receive (and many I purchase myself because I just can't wait) but there's no doubt in my mind that PaperBackSwap has been an asset to our family and our homeschool. (I do receive an extra book credit if you click my link and sign up for the club, but this is an honest recommendation. Pinky promise. Commercial over.)
I also wanted to share a wonderful list of (mostly) new Christmas books! I found quite a few to check out for next year. I sense our tradition evolving into a two-picture-books-a-day Advent activity.